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President Maduro renews call for dialogue with opposition in Venezuela

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-17 09:07

CARACAS - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reiterated his call for political dialogue with the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) on Sunday.

This came on the day his government held a practice vote ahead of the July 30 election for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) while the MUD held an unofficial referendum to allow the Venezuelan people to express their support or rejection for the ANC.

"They (MUD) have a quiet consultation today (...) I tell them not to go crazy, we make a call for them to return to peace, to sit down and talk, to begin a new cycle of dialogue for peace," said Maduro during a telephone interview with the state-owned Venezolana de Televisión.

He called on the opposition to recover "a democratic character" and "isolate" the sectors that Maduro blames for violent protests.

"We must be aware of the differences we have in the country, we must resolve them with peace, with votes and not bullets, with tolerance, with democracy," continued Maduro.

Maduro dismissed the referendum by the MUD as having seen little participation but claimed the simulation of the ANC vote as having seen "very big" participation, larger than any election for 18 years.

His call for peace may have been affected by the death of a woman, Xiomara Scott, 61, at a voting center for the MUD referendum.

Late Sunday, the prosecutor-general issued a statement stating that a shooting at the town of Catia, west of Caracas, had killed Scott and three others outside a voting center.

However, MUD representatives quickly attributed the attack on "armed groups" linked to the government.

The vice-president of the National Assembly, MUD member Freddy Guevara, sent a letter to Maduro and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, in which he claimed the army was responsible.

Scott's death brings the total number of people killed since anti-government protests broke out in early April to 95.

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